President Obama is set to announce far reaching regulations affecting the use of carbon dioxide at our nations existing coal fired power plants that have the potential to be a game changer regarding the way America produces and uses its energy. While the President hasn't divulged the specific regulations, it is widely anticipated he will call for greenhouse-gas emissions to be cut by 25-30 percent by 2030 and use his executive power to enforce this new rule change.
The pending regulation
will give states four options to meet the new standards: energy efficiency programs, shifting from coal to natural gas, renewable energy investments, and encouraging citizens to conserve energy, especially during peak hours. States will also be given broad leeway in the first few years so they can begin to adjust to the new regulations.
It is hard to overstate how monumental this regulation may be. A 30 percent cut in emissions is no small feat, but it is something President Obama has made a centerpiece of his climate platform. This, along with the President's previous agreement with the automotive industry to dramatically raise fuel standards, show President Obama is doing whatever he can legally do when faced with a Congress who is still debating whether climate change is real.
The new rule, which will be announced on June 2, will undoubtedly be met with a swift legal challenge by the utility industries who will have a lot to lose if it is upheld in the courts. Thankfully the Administration has multiple Supreme Court decisions that they feel gives them the full legal authority to move forward with these regulations. Massachusetts v. EPA, decided back in 2007, ruled the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to place limits on greenhouse gases because it is considered a dangerous pollutant. And in a more recent case, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled the EPA has the full legal authority to regulate pollution from our nations power plants.
How this all plays out is anyone's guess. While the Administration feels they have the authority to act on their own, there are very powerful and moneyed interests who will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo. The fact the Administration is enacting such a sweeping regulation without the blessing of Congress will also create an unwanted headache for red state and coal country democrats who would love to not have to deal with this during an election year.
Regardless of all of the potential pitfalls, I applaud President Obama for sticking his neck out there and doing something about this issue. I just wish we had more politicians in our government who cared more about doing the right thing, even when it is not the most popular one, for the greater good of the country.